I try very hard not to reinvent the wheel which means I’ll take advice from anybody who has a successful track record. Small operators or techs who have been around for awhile are some of the wells of knowledge I go to most often and I’m rarely disappointed. No, they’re not multi national or even million dollar gurus but who better to have in your foxhole when the odds are against you? There have been two local leaders in my pest control community that have made it possible for me to be writing this at all to you today. Two gentlemen that who probably haven’t given me much of a thought over the years but who I owe a great deal of gratitude. Two, who are shining examples of the professional whose made it through the woods and who you should listen to when you are just starting out.
Early in my business one such man was my absolute hero. Just a two man company but he had some of the biggest accounts in town. One such account was the hospital where my wife worked double shifts to carry the load while my fragile business was slowly building. Once he knew what I did and what we were going through he always made sure to stop in and talk to my wife at her nurses station. He was always interested in how we were doing and eager to give advice. He’d even call me from time to time and see how I was doing. This busy man actually waved me down more than once and all but gave me the keys to his kingdom with his morale boosting and vision he had for us, his competitor. He always did so with a smile on his face and an honest concern in his heart. For a small fry like myself- he really was a God send and example that gave my wife & I renewed hope many times when things seemed pretty bleak. (and things got pretty bleak more than a few times)
New Levels, New Challenges
As time went on my route grew and what I thought my version of easy street would bring and what actually came were two very different things. Enter pro #2. This guy has been there done that and went from a single operator himself to 1 million dollar company. He too is the salt of the earth and more than willing to answer my call and modestly give his advice and even asks mine from time to time. (he’s just trying to make me feel good) As my route burgeoned and I was going through employee problems, new tax realities and all the things associated with growth- he gave me some of the best perspective that has helped me tremendously. He explained that with each level of growth there was a whole new set of problems, challenges and rewards. $0 to $60 k had it’s tremendous challenges and most operators don’t even get by that. $60 to $120- in this area is a solid route and many companies flatten off and live very comfortably but struggle with the heavy work load. Adding an employee kills the bottom line but you cannot grow without one. From there you look at doubling the route which brings you some level of stability and adding employees is easier but with the $300 k and up level comes almost as much work as when you were struggling to get it all done alone. $3 to $600 is another tremendous bridge and getting to 1 million is in itself a huge climb.
While each step is a foundational stone and makes the next move forward easier it’s never care free. You’d be wise to know there awaits a new set of problems on every level of achievement for the single operator moving forward that can either stifle you or set you back completely. Make sure that you’re not caught off guard or get too cocky.
Experience Is Just Failure You Overcame
If you read my blog at any length you’ll find I have tons of stories that are filled with odd or ironic situations and truthfully, I’m only about 1/2 way through all that I’ve seen. While there were many rough times and places along my path where I just wanted to quit, there was always a lesson, a hidden drive, a motivation that fueled my desire to go further. This was almost always because of another tech- a solid pro. Someone I could look to even if they didn’t know it and draw from something they said or did that helped me dig deeper for an answer or just encouraged me to stick it out one more day. Such are the examples I site above. Neither person knows really what they’ve helped me through nor would they tout themselves if I gave their names.
They are, like so many in our industry just seasoned pros who want nothing more than to see you the new operator, achieve great success and to keep the giving going.